Historical Painting

Hello everyone! This week I will be delving into history paintings. A historical painting is a genre of painting that reigned popularity between the 15th and 19th century. This type of painting depicts important events such as historical, religious, or mythological stories. A narrative is told through the painting that depicts a specific moment in time.

Jacques-Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii, oil on canvas, 3.3 x 4.25m, 
commissioned by Louis XVI, painted in Rome, exhibited at the salon of 1785 
(Musée du Louvre)

One example of a historical painting from the 18th century is Oath of the Horatii by Jacques-Louis David. This painting depicts a great example of a Neoclassical history painting. The narrative behind this panting comes from ancient Roman text. There are three brothers shown on the left, saluting their father, who appears to be holding swords. The brothers will fight for Rome against a rival group from Alba. The men are taking an oath to honor and defend Rome. This dramatic scene does not have much depth, making the figures up front in the foreground. The scene is brought forward and the background is cut off by the Roman arches.

Brothers (detail), Jacques-Louis David, _Oath of the Horatii_, oil on canvas, 3.3 x 4.25m, commissioned by Louis XVI, painted in Rome, exhibited at the salon of 1785 (Musée du Louvre)

During the time that the artist, David, created this work he wanted to create visual material that would reinforce his ideals. His paintings were meant to aid in the spread of ideas. This was also during the Age of Enlightenment, which was period when new intellectual and philosophical moves were being made during the 18th century.

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